Posts Tagged ‘Home Office’

Report into Funders of Terrorism in UK May Be Suppressed by Tories

June 4, 2017

This is disturbing, but it really wouldn’t surprise me if the Home Office really did refuse to publish a report into the foreign sources of terrorism here in the UK.

Mike over at Vox Political has put up a piece from the Guardian, which explains how the Home Office’s extremism analysis unit was instructed by David Cameron to investigate the financing of extremist groups in the UK from abroad one and a half years ago, and to report their findings back to the PM and Theresa May.

The Home Office has now stated that the report has not been completed, and may never be published, as its contents are ‘extremely sensitive’.

The Lib Dem spokesman for foreign affairs, Tom Brake, has written to May asking her to confirm that the report will not be shelved, and commenting on the link between Islamic extremism in Britain and the Saudis’ funding for mosques. Mr Brake writes

“It is no secret that Saudi Arabia in particular provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the UK, espousing a very hardline Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root.”

The Guardian itself states

The contents of the report may prove politically as well as legally sensitive. Saudi Arabia, which has been a funding source for fundamentalist Islamist preachers and mosques, was visited by May earlier this year.

Mike states in his piece that by ‘very sensitive’ the report

seems to mean they concern the UK’s own relationship with Saudi Arabia under the Conservative governments of David Cameron and Theresa May.

Mike makes the point that we should not be selling arms to the Saudis, as we don’t know what they’re doing with them. He also cites Tweets from Tom London, who states that we need to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the funding of mosques by them.

Tom London also attacks May’s Tweet that the Tories will increase the powers of the police and security services, and inflict longer sentences for terrorism-related offences.

Mr London rightly asks how this is going to deter jihadis, who commit their atrocities with the intention of committing suicide.

While Rachael, another Tweeter, put up a photo of May receiving a medal from one of the Saudi princes, ironically commenting that ‘we are too tolerant of extremism in Britain.’

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/06/04/report-that-could-link-uk-to-terror-funders-may-never-be-published/

It’s been known for a very, very long time that ISIS and its predecessor, al-Qaeda, was receiving funding from very high levels in the Saudi government. This includes the current regent, Salman bin Salman, and the head of Saudi intelligence. I can remember reading a paper in one book on contemporary sources of Islamist terrorism how the Saudis financed al-Qaeda insurgents attacks and incursions into Syria and Iraq.

Twenty-four pages of the official report into 9/11, compiled by the American government, were suppressed until the families of the victims forced Obama to publish it. Again, despite security around the report, it was widely understood that these pages had been suppressed because they pointed to the Saudis as the nation behind the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Despite the massive evidence to the contrary, the Republicans are continuing to ignore the roots of global terrorism in Saudi Arabia, and are instead blaming Iran as the major source of terrorism around the world.

You don’t need to guess very hard why this is: oil, and anti-Russian geopolitics dating from the days of the Cold War. Since the 1920s America has backed the Saudis militarily in return for the right to exploit the country’s vast oil reserves.

The Americans are also careful not to alienate the Saudis because of the massive damage the Saudi’s oil embargo inflicted on the West during the oil crisis of the 1970s. That convinced the Saudis that they had the economic power to manipulate global affairs. All they have to do is lower the price of oil, and it wipes the domestic American oil industry off the map.

The West has also cultivated the Saudis, along with Israel, as a valuable ally in the Middle East in the long, imperialist campaign to eradicate secular Arab nationalism. Secular nationalist regimes, such as Nasser’s in Egypt, were considered by the Americans to be either Communist, or linked to Communism. This is one of the reasons why the Americans are so determined to overthrow Assad in Syria. The Ba’ath regime there is secular, and an ally of the Russians. Syria is a nation of diverse sects and faiths, with a population that includes Shi’a and Sunni Muslims, and also Christians. The dominant sect politically are the Alawis, who are Shi’a. As such, the regime also has important links with Iran.

While the Ba’athist government has massacred and oppressed its Sunni opponents, and has been a police state, it is much more tolerant than Saudi Arabia. Christians enjoyed greater freedom and were able to serve in the administration, because one of the founders of the party in the 1920s had been a Christian.

Iran has funded terrorism in Europe and further abroad. However, while it is a very repressive society, it is still more tolerant than many other nations. Counterpunch and The Young Turks have produced articles and reports showing that, despite the Iranian regime’s rhetoric calling for the destruction of Israel, Jews in Iran are actually well treated. I’ve also heard scholars researching religious syncretism in the Middle East state that the regime has also been keen to show how it does not oppress the Zoroastrians, the country’s indigenous monotheistic religion.

It is very different in Saudi Arabia. The only religion tolerated in that country is Wahhabi Islam. Non-Muslim religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and so on are banned, as is Shi’a Islam. There are Shi’a Muslims in Saudi Arabia, but they live in villages without running water or electricity and with higher rates of poverty and unemployment. They are forbidden to build mosques and their religious literature is also banned. Chillingly, one of the major Saudi religious figures I can’t remember whether it was the Supreme Mufti or the Sharif of Mecca even went so far the other year as to denounce the Shi’a as enemies of the faith and ‘worthy of death’.

The Saudis have been backing very hardline, very intolerant interpretations of Islam across the world, from Muslim communities in Bosnia and the Balkans, to Chechnya and Pakistan and beyond.

And foreign funding of mosques and the influence of extremist foreign imams has been an issue since the 1990s and the demands for the execution of the novelist Salman Rushdie for blasphemy for his book, The Satanic Verses. I can remember reading in the Encyclopedia of Islam at College that foreign countries tended to finance mosques over here in blighty as a way of influencing their congregations. And the imam, who received Rushdie back into the faith when the novelist briefly tried to make his peace with the religion, also wrote in the Financial Times that there was a pressing need to train and supply more imams, who had been born and grew up over here. The lack of native British Muslim clergy meant that the immigration authorities were allowing into this country mullahs from places like Pakistan, who held extreme and intolerant views. This is why the British government has a programme to support and fund British Muslims studying for the clergy, and to promote a more liberal interpretation of the faith.

But the British government has also done its share of importing Muslims terrorists from around the world. Thatcher gave asylum to members of the Mujahideen, who had fought the Russians in Afghanistan, even though these were violent religious extremists. But they were acceptable, because they were anti-Communist. The family of Salman Abedi, who blew himself up killing 22 and injuring another 60 innocents in Manchester last Monday, were members of a Libyan Islamist terrorist group. They had been given sanctuary over here, and the warnings about them, including by members of the city’s Muslim community, were ignored, because the British government had used them in the NATO campaign to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy.

If we really want to stop terrorism, we should stop selling arms to the Saudis and block their funding of extremist mosques and groups. We should ourselves also stop supporting Islamist terror groups around the world. At the moment the American government is supplying arms and training to the rebels in Syria, despite the fact that they are all hardline terrorist groups, or connected to the hardliners, and the arms will inevitably find their way into the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda militants.

Of all the politicians, it is Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, who have stated that they will stop arms sales to the Saudis.

May definitely will not. She and Cameron have both been to the Middle East to try and sell them more British weapons, just like Blair and then the Tory governments before him.

And Corbyn has set up a shadow minister for peace and disarmament, and promised to turn this into an official department if he gets into power.

Much of the radicalisation of the Muslim world has occurred because of the carnage inflicted on the Middle East through the western invasion of Iraq. That doesn’t excuse atrocities like that committed against the great people of Manchester and our capital. Just as it doesn’t excuse the other murders the Jihadists have committed without number against ordinary, peaceful Muslims across the Middle East – in Iraq, Syria and Turkey, and in places like Pakistan. But it is a contributing cause, which Corbyn has said he wants to stop.

As the great man has said, ‘Tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism’.

Don’t believe liars like May and Boris Johnson, who will take away more of our liberties in the campaign against terrorism, while doing nothing but give more money to the Saudis and other backers of these thugs and other like them.

Vote for Corbyn and the Labour party on June 8th.

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Best Hopes and Prayers for the Victims of Daesh Attack in Manchester

May 23, 2017

Like everyone else, I’ve been stunned and horrified by the suicide bombing last night of a concert by Arianna Grande in Manchester. From what I gather from the news, it’s left 22 people dead and 59 injured.

Jo, one of the great commenters here, posted this on one of my other posts earlier today, which expresses my own feelings and, I’m sure, those of all the other people who read and comment on this blog. She said

I would like to offer my condolences, Hopes and Prayers to all those touched by this tragic and cowardly attack! My heart goes out to all who are suffering!

Mike over at Vox Political has also expressed his disgust at this atrocity in a piece supporting a post by the Angry Yorkshireman. Both Mike and Tom Clarke are afraid that the extreme Right will start using this attack to spread racist and Islamophic bile. From reading the great people, who have commented on Mike’s blog, it appears that the Scum’s resident troll, Katie Hopkins, and Stephen Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson, formerly of the English Defence League and Pegida UK, have already done so. As has Alt-Right ideologue and hate monger, Stefan Molyneux. Mike also mentions a Twitter thread in which one bigot recommends setting up concentration camps.

Mike states

This Site – This Writer – is horrified by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts and sympathies are with the families and friends of those who have died or who have been injured.

But the way to answer it is to share important messages that provide support, like this one:

[Here he includes a Home Office message and link to a page that will provide help for people who have been affected by this attack.]

Nobody should answer hate with hate. That is what terrorists want.

And we should not shut down our political discourse either – they want that too.

Defy them. Drown their hate-filled messages. Offer hope instead.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/05/23/terror-attack-in-manchester-lays-political-debate-open-to-extremists/

Terrorists commit their atrocities not just to spread fear amongst their enemies, but also to provoke the government and authorities into retaliating harshly. They hope that the government and people of Britain will attack and persecute other Muslims, as they believe that this will radicalise Britain’s Muslims in turn in a vicious cycle of hate and violence.

The best way to respond to this attack is not to let them lure or provoke any of us, whatever our religious beliefs or lack of them, into hatred. Their actions and beliefs are not supported or representative of the majority of Muslims, both in Britain and throughout the world. One of the contributors to Counterpunch, an Arab, pointed out in an article there that cleric after cleric in Muslim nations and communities across the world have issued fatwas condemning ISIS. A few years ago the biggest Muslim organisation in India issued a denunciation, supported by something like 200 members of the Islamic clergy.

As well as killing non-Muslims, Daesh have also murdered ordinary Muslims. They constitute the majority of their victims. Daesh has also done its level best to destroy Muslim shrines and erase centuries of Muslim scholarship, culture and learning, when they decide it’s not ‘Muslim’ enough for them. So we’ve seen mosques and shrines desecrated and destroyed along with Christian churches in Iraq. And a few years ago Islamist militants tried to burn down the medieval library of the west African city of Timbuktu. As well as being a fabled centre of the west African gold trade, Timbuktu was also a site of Islamic learning, and its library contained a wealth of ancient texts, including scientific books.

And it would not surprise me even remotely if many of the victims of last night’s attack were also Muslims, just gone, like the other people there, to have a good time.

I also have the deepest sympathy for Grande herself. She has stated that she feels deeply sorry for what happened. This must be a very hard blow for her, as every entertainer or performer goes out on stage hoping to give people a good time. The last thing they want is for the people who appreciate and support their music to be murdered by some fanatic.

I also have the utmost respect and praise for the doctors, nurses and emergency services, who responded so quickly and promptly to this emergency. According to the news, many people came back from their leave or days off in order to help, to the point where one hospital was turning them away.

We are so lucky to have such dedicated professionals in Britain, and it is a scandal that May and the Tories are treating them with such derision, that there are now nurses forced to use food banks.

Hope Not Hate are also compiling a message of hope, peace and tolerance on their site, which they hope people will sign. If you wish to do so, and add your own personal message to it, you can find it at

http://hopenothate.org.uk/?source=170420_welcome&subsource=HOPEnothate_email&utm_medium=email&utm_source=HOPEnothate&utm_campaign=170420_welcome&utm_content=1+-+the+new+HOPE+not+hate+website

Go there and then follow the link.

Manchester’s a great city with a great people. I wish them the very best, and have every confidence that they won’t give in to the bigots and preachers of hate, whether from the British xenophobic Right or the Islamists.

We will never be divided!

Theresa May and the Faux-Feminism of the Tories

July 10, 2016

Okay, it appears from the latest developments in the Tory leadership contest that their next leader will not only be a woman, but probably Theresa May. May’s currently, I think, the Home Office Minister. Another Tory authoritarian, she’d like the spooks to have access to all our telecoms information to stop us joining ISIS and abusing children. Or at least, that’s what she says. Either way, she represents the continuing expansion of the secret state and its determination to pry into every aspect of our lives. Just in case we’re doing something illegal. In the polls Thursday night or so she won something like 144 votes compared to Andrea Leadsom’s 86 and Michael Gove’s 43. There was a shot of her at one of the party rallies, which showed Ian Duncan Smith, the former Minister in Charge of the Murder of the Disabled looking up at her with the same kind of rapture you see in pictures of Rudolf Hess at Nuremberg as he introduces Adolf Hitler.

May as the Modern Thatcher

The papers on Friday were full of the news of her probable victory. The Torygraph ran the headline, ‘If you want something said, go to a man. If you want something done, go to a woman’. Presumably this was a quote from May herself, trying to position herself as a go-getting woman of action, ready to sort out the mess the men have left. It’s also intended to get her support from Britain’s women. Look, she and her PR gurus are saying, I represent all the women in Britain, and their drives and frustrations in trying to get the top job. And I’ve done it, and, so vicariously, have Britain’s women through me. Vote for me, and we’ll sort Britain out again. The Mirror summed up her probable victory with the headline ‘Another Thatcher’.

That’s true, and it looks very much like the Tory party is trying to hark back to Margaret Thatcher’s victory way back in 1979, and the thirteen years of flag-waving, prole-bashing that unleashed. Thatcher was Britain’s first, and so far, only female Prime Minister. Her election was instrumental in getting the Tories female support, and presenting their agenda of poverty, welfare cuts, joblessness and general immiseration as somehow empowering and progressive. It presented a faux-feminist veneer to what was an acutely traditionalist party. Thatcher did not see herself as a feminist, but nevertheless, her lackeys in the press ran features on her deliberately aimed at women and gaining their support. When she was ousted, Germaine Greer, who had been bitterly critical of her time in No. 10, wrote a piece in the Groan ‘A Sad Day for Every Woman’. And this propaganda line continued with other female Tories afterwards. I can remember a piece in the Mail on Sunday discussing what politics would be like in a female dominated House of Commons about the time Virginia Bottomley joined Major’s cabinet. It imagined Britain as an anarcho-capitalist utopia, where everything was privatised, and instead of the police neighbourhoods hired private security guards. And it ran the notorious factoid that’s been repeated and debunked ever since: that managing the country’s economy was like running a household. Women, so the article claimed, automatically had a better understanding of how the economy should be run through their role controlling the household budget. It’s actually rubbish, as the Angry Yorkshireman, Mike over at Vox Political and a number of left-wing economists and bloggers have repeatedly pointed out. For example, when budgeting for a household, you try to avoid debt, or pay it off as quickly as possible. But no-one has wanted to pay off the national debt since at least the late 18th century, and governments contract debts all the time with the deliberate intention of stimulating growth, as well as having the ability to manipulate circumstances in ways that the average householder can’t. They can, for example, affect the economy by setting the value of their currencies in order to promote exports, for example. The Japanese have deliberately kept the Yen weak in order to make their exports less expensive and so more competitive on foreign markets. They can also alter, or affect exchange rates to control public expenditure outside of immediate state spending. Ordinary people can’t do any of this. But nevertheless, the lie is repeated, and as we’ve seen, believed. A little while ago a man in the audience at Question Time challenged one of the politicos there with not running the country properly. He claimed it should have been obvious to anyone who’s had to run a household. Or possibly their own business.

Women Suffering the Most from Tory Misrule

In power, Thatcher – and the Tories’ policies in general – have hit women the hardest. Women tend to work in the poorest paid jobs, those least unionised, and so with the fewest protections. They are also more likely than men to be active as carers, with the immense responsibilities and pressures that entails. The Tories’ austerity policies have seen more women laid off, and more suffering cuts to hours and pay, with worsening conditions. These have been inflicted on male workers and carers as well, of course. I personally know blokes as well as women, who’ve been put on zero hours contracts, of have had to fight battles with the DWP to get disability benefits for their partners. Women haven’t been solely hit by any means, but they have been especially hit.

Tory Feminism only for the Rich

But I’ve no doubt that the Tories will try to hide all that, and positively divert attention away from it, by pointing to the success of May in finally getting to No. 10. It’ll be presented as another crack in glass ceiling preventing women from getting the top jobs. I’ve also no doubt that there will be some noises about making sure that business, industry and parliament becomes more representative of the country. There will be loud announcements about getting more women into parliament, on the boards of business, and in male-dominated areas such as science and engineering.

But this will all be done to give power and jobs to women from May’s background: well-heeled, well-educated middle class public school gels from Roedean and the like. Rich, corporate types like Hillary Clinton in the US. It isn’t going to be for women from council estates and comprehensive schools, ordinary women working back-breaking jobs in factories, as care home staff, nurses, cleaners, shop assistants, office workers and the like, all of whom are increasingly under pressure from the government’s austerity programme. They, and the men alongside whom they work, doing the same jobs, aren’t going to be helped by the Tories one little bit.

The Thin Veneer of Tory Liberalism

May’s faux-feminism is part of a general thin façade of progressivism, which the Tory party occasionally adopts to promote itself. Cameron came to power pretending to be more left-wing than Tony Blair. When he took over the Tory party, he made much about shedding the party’s image of racism and homophobia. He cut links with the Monday Club, went around promoting Black Tory candidates. Gay MPs were encouraged to come forward and be open about their sexuality. In power, he ostentatiously supported gay marriage, presenting it as Tory victory, even though it had practically already been introduced by Tony Blair in the guise of civil partnerships. Cameron and IDS wanted to be seen as liberal modernisers. But all their reforms are extremely shallow, designed to disguise the rigidly authoritarian and hierarchical party underneath. A party determined to make the poor as poor as possible for the corporate rich.

Generational Differences in Voting

Looking through the stats with friends on Friday, it seems that there’s a marked divergence in political attitudes between young women, and those over 55. The majority of women over 55 tend to vote Conservative, according to the stats. I know plenty who don’t, and so this can be challenged. My guess is that, if this is accurate, it’s probably due to the fact that women generally haven’t worked in the kind of manual trades occupied by men, which require considerable solidarity and so have produced strong union bonds, like mining, metal work and so on. It’s also possibly partly due to the prevailing social ideology when they were born. There was a marked lull in feminist activity between women finally gaining the vote in 1928 or so and the rise of the modern women’s movement in the 1960s. During those forty years, the dominant social attitude was that women should concentrate on their roles of wife and mother. Many firms in this period would not hire married women, a practice which caused immense hardship to women, and families generally that needed two incomes to make ends meet. Also, generally speaking, support for the Tories is higher amongst pensioners.

Younger women are more likely to be left-wing and socialist. If correct, this generally follows the trend of the younger generation being more idealistic and progressive than their elders.

I hope that despite all the pseudo-feminist verbiage and lies the Tories will spout from now onwards, trying to make themselves more presentable to the nation’s female voters, women will recognise them for what they are, and vote them out. As soon as possible.

CounterPunch on British Spies’ Recruitment of Islamist Fighters against Syria

May 7, 2016

On April 5 CounterPunch posted an article on their blog examining the number of Islamist extremists, who the British intelligence agencies had tried to recruit, including a number, who had then been caught travelling to Syria. They concluded that there are very strong reasons for believing that the spooks are trying to recruitment them as part of a strategy to overturn Assad’s regime.

The article begins by noting that British intelligence was responsible for the ‘dodgy dossier’, the spurious intelligence document claiming that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which provided the pretext for Blair to join Bush’s invasion. They then note that 500 British citizens have gone to Syria, 50 of whom have subsequently been killed in fighting. They then discuss the individual cases of those who have been approached by the spooks. These include:

Michael Adebolajo, one of the killers of Lee Rigby;

Three sisters from Bradford, who decamped to Syria. It seems they had been contacted by NECTU, the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, who had actively encouraged them to go to Syria to contact their brother, who was already there;

Mozzam Begg, who claimed MI5 had given him permission to train recruits for Syria;

Aimen Dean, who in Radio 4 interview claimed he had been recruited by MI6. Part of his duties included training impressionable Muslims to fight in Syria;

Bherlin Gildo, who had been intercepted travelling from Copenhagen to Manila to attend a terrorist training camp. His trial at the Old Bailey collapsed when it became apparent that if it carried on, it would lead to embarrassing revelations about Britain’s spies;

Siddharta Dhar, who was caught trying to travel to Syria for the sixth time. The intelligence services had also attempted to recruit him;

And the original ‘Jihadi John’, Mohammed Emwazi, was also known to the British intelligence service, who had also tried to recruit him.

They conclude:

These cases demonstrate a couple of irrefutable points. Firstly, the claim that the security services would have needed more power and resources to have prevented these abscondances is clearly not true. Since 1995, the Home Office has operated what it calls a ‘Warnings Index’: a list of people ‘of interest’ to any branch of government, who will then be ‘flagged up’ should they attempt to leave the country. Given that every single one of these cases was well known to the authorities, the Home Office had, for whatever reason, decided either not to put them on the Warnings Index, or to ignore their attempts to leave the country when they were duly flagged up. That is, the government decided not to use the powers already at its disposal to prevent those at the most extreme risk of joining the Syrian insurgency from doing so.

Secondly, these cases show that British intelligence and security clearly prioritise recruitment of violent so-called Islamists over disruption of their activities. The question is – what exactly are they recruiting them for?

At his trial, Bherlin Gildo’s lawyers provided detailed evidence that the British government itself had been arming and training the very groups that Gildo was being prosecuted for supporting. Indeed, Britain has been one of the most active and vocal supporters of the anti-government insurgency in Syria since its inception, support which continued undiminished even after the sectarian leadership and direction of the insurgency was privately admitted by Western intelligence agencies in 2012. Even today, with ISIS clearly the main beneficiaries of the country’s destabilization, and Al Qaeda increasingly hegemonic over the other anti-government forces, David Cameron continues to openly ally himself with the insurgency.

Is it really such a far-fetched idea that the British state, openly supporting a sectarian war against the Ba’athist government in Syria, might also be willfully facilitating the flow of British fighters to join this war? Britain’s long history of collusion with sectarian paramilitaries as a tool of foreign policy – in Ireland, Afghanistan and throughout the Gulf – certainly suggests this may be so.

Go to their article at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/05/british-collusion-with-sectarian-violence-in-syria/ for further information.

As for the reasons why the British government should want to overthrow Assad, my guess is that a number of them are about the geopolitics of the Middle East, as well as the Neo-Con, Neo-Lib urge to get their hands on the Syrian state’s assets and then sell them off, just as they did to Iraq. Assad’s regime is Ba’ath, which is secular, Arab nationalist and Socialist. They’re allied with the Russians and, although the country has not been in military conflict with Israel for some time, technically it is still at war. And oil may still be a priority, due to the proximity to several pipelines. On several of the American Conservative blogs after the Iraq invasion there were demands for the war to be expanded to oust Assad. My guess is that Britain is covertly following this policy by arming and supporting Islamist fighters.

If this is the case, then there’s a huge irony here. Islamists bitterly hate the state of Israel, and yet if they are being recruited by the West to overthrow Assad, they are being so as part of a strategy to defend Israel from a nation that has supported the Palestinians. Which should be a good reason for any prospective jihadi to think better of it and stay at home. As well as not becoming a murderous thug, whose organisations have done nothing but spread brutality, chaos and murder amongst the already beleaguered and suffering people of the Arab and Muslim world.

Judge’s Ruling Stops Deportations of Foreign Students

March 28, 2016

The Politics.Co.UK yesterday reported that a judge, Mr Justice McCloskey, had ruled that the Home Office’s deportation of thousands of foreign students was illegal and unfair. The article begins:

The ruling could hardly be more damning. It found Theresa May deported thousands of students from Britain on the basis of unscientific hearsay evidence. The Home Office behaved like a tin-pot dictatorship: detaining innocent people, accusing them of made-up charges without providing anything to back it up, denying them their day in court and then deporting them.

Today’s ruling could open the doors to the return of thousands of students to the UK, if – of course – they wish to come back to a country which has treated them so appallingly. And it brings to a shuddering halt Theresa May’s mass deportation programme of students. It also raises serious questions about the legal and operational functions – as well as the basic morality – of the Home Office.

The Home Office started rounding up foreign students after Panorama aired a programme on how students at a single London school were cheating to pass the ETS language test. Instead of just treating this as a single instance, the Home Office decided that everyone, who had taken the test must also be guilty of fraud. The students themselves were rounded up in dawn raids, husbands and wives were separated. And they were also not allowed to see the evidence against them. Which from the point of view of the government was just as well, as there was none.

The case rests on the performance of a voice recognition test run by an American firm, ETS. This claimed that it had run thousands of tests comparing its software with humans. When it came to the court case, however, ETS did not appear. It sent no witnesses, and gave no evidence one way or another.

The article raises the following questions about this sorry affair.

How did the Home Office get to the point where it started deporting innocent people on the basis of unreliable hearsay evidence and without any proper judicial remedy? Why did the home secretary breach her duty of candour with those being accused of fraud? How is a private firm contracted to do public service work for the UK government issuing fantastical information to the Home Office? Why is it getting away with shutting up shop and refusing to comply with a tribunal? How did the Home Office end up being completely reliant on a foreign private contractor in the first place? And what is the home secretary going to do to contact the people who were unlawfully removed from this country so that they can now return to the UK?

The article is at http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2016/03/23/disaster-for-theresa-may-as-legal-ruling-brings-student-depo

What struck me was the sheer lack of any kind of proper legal process from the accused. They were just rounded up and deported. If they were tried, they weren’t allowed to see the evidence against them. I’ve already commented about the real, serious threat to democracy the government’s system of secret courts present, and how this is very close to the perverted court system set up by the Nazis. Under these courts, those accused of terrorism may not be allowed to see the evidence against them, or know who their accuser is, and the court proceedings carried on in closed session if this it is felt there is a threat to national security. This case shows how the same unjust procedures have been expanded to cover immigration. It’s hard to see how these foreign students en masse constitute such a threat that they could not see the evidence presented against them. Of course, the real reason they couldn’t see it, was because it didn’t exist. The government just wanted to throw them out of the country.

Well, it started with those accused of terrorism. Now it’s been extended to cover possible illegal immigrants. I don’t doubt that the government is hoping they can extend it even further to the general public, and specifically those sections Cameron doesn’t like: the poor, the ill, trade unionists and left-wingers. His proposed trade union bill, remember, would have required strikers on picket lines to give their names to the police. It was a measure too far for even David Davis, who described it as ‘Francoist’. And, like Franco, Cameron no doubt ultimately aims for the arrest and detention of left-wing opponents of the regime, whether they’re trade unionists on strike or protestors holding a march. This is the beginning of a police state. And Mr Justice McCloskey is to be applauded in upholding justice against Theresa May for combatting this piece of it.

Demonstration Tomorrow Against The Security and Policing Trade Show 2016

March 8, 2016

There’s going to be a demonstration tomorrow against a police and security industry trade expo at 5 O’clock in the afternoon. There have already been posters put up across London, showing a woman holding a placard explaining that despite being an elected member of the London Assembly, the police deemed her such a threat that the spied on her for ten years.

Mike over at Vox Political has a piccie of the posters, and quotes the organisers of the demonstration on their reasons for calling it. They state:

“Behind closed doors, the Home Office is hosting a three day shopping spree. Governments, police forces and military delegations from around the world can buy all the necessary equipment to support violent militarised policing, aggressive border controls and oppressive surveillance operations.

“Organised far from London, it provides a “discreet environment” for hundreds of companies who want to “display products which would be too sensitive to show in a more open environment”. Companies such as Serco who make a fat profit from the inhumane detention of thousands of refugees in centres like Yarls Wood; or weapons companies like BAE systems whose business is dependent on human suffering and continuous wars.

“The heavy policing of borders, militarisation of police, increased surveillance of civilians and high military spending do not improve security and they do not make any of us safer. They make the world a more dangerous place and we need to resist all of it.”

(My emphasis).

Mike’s article can be read at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/08/want-to-know-why-these-posters-have-started-appearing-theydontmakeussafer/

The organisers have a home page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/712863342183693/

Not being a Londoner, I have no idea who the woman in the photograph is. All I can say is that she looks White, of mature years, and entirely ordinary. Which I believe is the point. She does not look as if she belongs to any suspect ethnic or religious group, though it would be an example of the Met’s racism if they had unfairly spied on a Black or Asian person for the past decade, simply because of their ethnicity; or if it was a gay man or woman.

These are the merchants of death, and the industrial beneficiaries of the massive expansion of the surveillance state and the increasing diminution of the circle of freedom Brits now enjoy. The explanation includes references to Yarls Wood detention centre. That was the place, if I recall correctly, that was hit by riots a few years ago due to the inhuman and brutal treatment the detainees received at the hands of SERCO. I believe one person may even have been killed by a SERCO guard, thus provoking the disturbances.

As for BAE, they were caught several times by Private Eye trying to sell electric batons and riot shields at arms expos to those lovely, entirely democratic countries in the Middle East, with excellent human rights laws like Saudi Arabia. Such weapons are illegal under international law. And if they’re prepared to sell them to the Gulf Arab states, you wonder if they’re also prepared to secretly sell them to the government, especially after they’ve contributed to handsomely to Tory coffers over the years. And Cameron returned the compliment when he visited their factory in Wharton, where he boasted how he had sold ‘wonderful things’ to the bloody despots of the Middle East.

This is the civilian end of the military-industrial complex, and like the military, they don’t promise peace, but more conflict, suffering and bloodshed. And they are a continuing threat to traditional British freedom.

Vox Political: Cameron Deliberately Misquotes Corbyn on Migrants

January 26, 2016

A few days ago, Jeremy Corbyn took the principled step of actually visiting the migrant camp in Calais, commenting on the poverty and appalling conditions there. It’s a move few politicians would care to do, because of migration being such a toxic issue. The Daily Heil did, I think, send one of their journos there in the hope of uncovering rabid jihadis bent on entering Britain by subterfuge. They were disappointed, as the migrants they discovered all had a disarmingly high view of Britain and the opportunities it offered. Corbyn made a number of suggestions for raising living conditions in the camps, and said that those migrants with family ties to Britain should be allowed to enter our country.

This has clearly got Cameron worried. So worried, that he has misquoted the man in order to distort his stance on migration and asylum. Mike today reported that Cameron said that Corbyn recommended making the Calais camp a ‘direct route’ to the UK, and stood for ‘open door’ immigration.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/26/quelle-surprise-cameron-distorts-corbyns-words-on-calais-migrants/

Mike remarks that the Tories should be glad David Cameron will be gone in a few years; it is becoming far too easy for UK citizens like This Writer to see through his comments.

Well, Cameron and his cronies now lie so often and so hard, that they’ve become the living embodiment of the old joke about politicians: ‘How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips move.’ Adopt this attitude to anything Cameron, IDS, Nikki Morgan, Osbo or, indeed, the entire Tory party and you won’t go wrong. Cameron’s line, of course, is to play up to the idea that somehow Labour are soft on immigration. Underlying this is the old quote repeated in right wing, and extreme right wing circles, about Labour having deliberately let non-White immigrants into the country in order to make it multicultural against the wishes of the White population, just to spite the Tories.

In fact, from what I can remember, the opposite was true. Once in power, Bliar’s administration cracked down hard on immigration. I can remember Alan Coren remarking on the News Quiz back in the 1990s when he was still alive and it was still funny his amazement at the transformation that had occurred to one of Labour’s politicians once he had become head of the Home Office. From being fairly fuzzy, warm and caring, he had turned into the exact opposite. Coren joked that there was something about the post, so that whoever it was who got the job, ‘they all become men of steel’. Coren was one of the greatest satirists 20th century Britain ever produced, and in my view his death left a gap in British political comedy that has never really been filled since.

Cameron’s comments are also to cover up the fact that his administration has been consistently incompetent at handling immigration. Despite claims that they were going to cut it down to a certain level, they have proven repeatedly that they are unable to do so. And when they have tried to take a tough line, it’s been transparently racist. Remember the vans going round Black and Asian neighbourhoods inviting people to turn themselves in and be repatriated?

Forget what Cameron has to say about the migrant camp and Corbyn. He’s just trying to divert attention from his own party’s dismal failure on this point. Quite apart from what it says about immigrants who dare to have families.

Vox Political: Doncaster Coroner Says Bedroom Tax Suicide ‘Staged’

January 23, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has posted this piece attacking the verdict of Assistant Doncaster Coroner Mark Beresford on the death of Frances MacCormack, http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/22/does-this-coroners-verdict-on-another-bedroom-tax-related-death-seem-sick-to-you/. Mrs MacCormack was found hanging in the room her son committed suicide after receiving a letter threatening her with eviction over the Bedroom Tax. Beresford, the Assistant Coroner, concluded at the inquest that it had been ‘staged’, but had gone wrong, thus causing this poor woman’s death.

This seems utter nonsense.

Rather than making up a story, why not look at the evidence?

This is a woman who had been pestered to pay the Bedroom Tax for two years, by the time of her death.

She had clearly reached a point of desperation – as the note in the bedroom suggests. Anyone appealing to David Cameron for mercy is clearly in dire straits indeed.

But the note was not delivered. Instead, Frances McCormack was found hanged in the same spot as her son. Perhaps this was the most secure point in the house from which a person dedicated to such a deed might commit it? Or, more simply, perhaps she chose that spot because she knew she would be successful?

The eviction notice arrived the same day her body was discovered.

This was no “staged arrangement” gone wrong.

It was the final act of a woman who had realised that nothing she could say or do could possibly stop the council from removing her from her home – because its hands had been tied by the Conservative Government.

Mike states that this is bring coroners’ into further disrepute after similar questionable verdicts elsewhere, and asks why they are making them in the first place.

A generous assessment might be to save the victim’s reputation. Suicide is seen very much as the ‘coward’s way out’, instead of what it is – the horrific last act of those in the extremity of despair. And because of the shame about it, many coroners have been unwilling to pass a verdict of suicide, preferring to save the deceased’s reputation by instead deciding that it was all due to accidental death.

Now some people do make an attempt on their lives as a desperate ‘cry for help’, rather than genuinely intending to take their own lives. Even so, the person so staging such an act must truly be desperate to even consider such a thing in the face of what can obviously go wrong.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, that the sheer number of these cases have become such that the government is find them acutely embarrassing, and so taken what they consider to be the appropriate steps. Mike reported two more or so such suicides last week, for example. Of course, by ‘appropriate steps’, the government does not mean something common sense and humane, like actually getting rid of the Bedroom Tax. No! This is an administration of PR spin merchants, fraudsters and corporate liars. Their response to anything embarrassing is to try to close down the source of information and start lying and attacking the whistleblower. It really, really wouldn’t surprise me if there was some memo passed down from the Home Office stating that in these cases, they should avoid a suicide ruling in order not to distress the people who really count: Ian Duncan Smith and his wretched cronies.

MI5 Tapped Everyone’s Phones Over Past Ten Years

November 5, 2015

I’ve just caught this snippet on BBC Breakfast News. They claimed that it’s been revealed that MI5 have kept records of the phone calls made by everyone in Britain for the past decade.

Now this truly boggles the mind, as I was taught at school that there are about 60-65 million people in the UK. It seems incredible to me that the security services could record even a small fraction of the total population’s phone calls, let along everybody, and find enough computer memory space to store them for as long as they have.

It’s also extremely worrying. I’ve been blogging a lot recently about the growth of the surveillance state, and the threat this poses to the personal liberty of all us in the UK. This is further confirmation of that, and shows just how paranoid the authorities are.

Now I don’t dispute the fact that the security services have a right and a duty to spy on those, who can be reasonable suspected of terrorism or supporting terrorist groups, as well as foreign spies. But this has to be matched with proper checks so that innocent people are not targeted and placed under suspicion. This new statistic seems to indicate that the authorities view everyone as some kind of potential terrorist or subversive. If that’s the case, it shows a dangerous need amongst our leaders to control, monitor, and stifle just about everyone in the UK on the grounds that they present some kind of threat.

It also shows how weak and ineffective the government’s claims that their reforms to the justice system, and expansion of the powers of the secret state, won’t constitute a threat to our traditional liberties. Much was made in the Tory press about New Labour’s Marxist drive to stifle free speech and democracy. The Tories and their Lib Dem enablers have gone much further, and set up a system of secret courts. They also wanted to give the security state even further powers to seize people’s records of what they’ve been looking at online over the past year, but were forced to climb down in anticipation of another battle with the Lords.

One upon a time, the state was supposed to get a warrant from the Home Office before they started tapping people’s phones. Those days, it seems, are now long gone. Everyone is being monitored, and so everyone is apparently viewed as potential suspect. We really are heading towards the kind of society Orwell warned against in 1984. And Big Brother has been listening to our phone calls for the last ten years.

Hungarian Protester Threatened with Deportation despite Innocent of any Crime

October 19, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has blogged about this story, featured in this Saturday’s Guardian. Daniel Gardonyi, a Hungarian man involved in the Sweet’s Way protest, has been threatened with deportation by the Home Office despite not having been charged with any offence. The article begins:

Lawyers for Hungarian-born man say Home Office threat appears to be illegal and jeopardises right to peaceful protest. A political activist arrested but not charged during peaceful protests is facing illegal deportation from the UK, his lawyer has claimed.

It is thought to be the first case of its kind and has raised serious concerns that the right to peaceful protest, which is enshrined in English law, is being eroded.

Daniel Gardonyi, 34, is Hungarian but has lived in the UK for several years. He is self-employed and has been involved in several high-profile protests, including the occupation of Friern Barnet library in north London and the Sweets Way housing occupation in the borough of Barnet.

He was arrested during the recent Sweets Way protest but not charged with any offence. He then received a letter from the Home Office threatening to remove him from the UK as part of Operation Nexus, a joint police and Home Office operation designed to arrest and deport criminals from other parts of the EU living in the UK.

Lawyers say they believe it is the first time Operation Nexus has been used to target a law-abiding political protester rather than a foreign national offender.

Gardonyi’s solicitor, Daniel Furner, said parts of the letter to Gardonyi threatening to deport him appeared to be unlawful. “It appears that our client has been specifically and systematically targeted as a result of his peaceful, political activities in the UK.”

The full article can be read at http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/oct/17/law-abiding-activist-faces-deportation-from-uk.

This has serious implications for British constitutional freedoms. It shows that the government is willing to clamp down on protestors even when they have not committed a criminal offence. The decision to deport Mr Gardonyi is illegal. It looks like the authorities are determined to punish him for his participation any way they can, and have settled on deportation as they cannot jail him. No doubt they are hoping that they’ll be able to get away with this due to the fact that as foreigner, he doesn’t quite have the same social links and status as native Brits. It hardly needs to be said that if the Home Office gets away with this, they will use it on other foreign born protestors. Previous examples of the way this government has tried to deport foreign citizens has shown how ruthless they are. Some of these cases involve people, who have been here for many years, and are respectable, taxpaying citizens. This counts for nothing.

Furthermore, the crackdown on foreigners joining British protests is only the thin end of the wedge. If the government can break the law to deport a man without charge, then it won’t be long before they break the law to arrest and imprison British citizens for protesting. Cameron and the Tories have already passed legislation demanding that strikers on a picket line should give their names to the police. They and their Lib Dem enablers also set up a system of secret courts, in which those charged may not know who their accusers are, or what the evidence against them is, if the government considers this ‘sensitive’ information.

David Davies attacked the government’s legislation against the unions as ‘Francoist’. He is absolutely right, and this is another totalitarian measure by a government determined to suppress all dissent.